Research points to the importance of social relationships. It is probably fair to say that all members of the animal kingdom demonstrate the need for relationships. Horses spend time grooming each other, monkeys likewise, deer are seldom found alone. Are humans any different?
When asking someone why they like to work in a particular place, with a particular company usually coming up in the top five reasons is “social relationships”.
Relations with other people are important for our general wellbeing. Our innate desire to reach out to others for a quick chat, to give and receive recognition is a key driver. Our natural instinct and drive to create and be a member of a family, to form friends, to become a part of a team in the workplace and to connect in some way is part of who we are. Therefore, the quality of our relationships is also important.
What do relationships provide that is so important to each of us?
Perhaps the number one benefit is recognition as being a human, recognition for the contributions we make in our different roles – father, mother, brother, sister, work colleague, boss, and so on. The power of recognition is a forceful motivator helping us to feel valued for who we are and what we bring.
Can we expect that all relationships are perfect all the time?
As humans it is normal and natural for us to have differences of opinion, to inadvertently upset someone by treading on their toes or to miss something of importance for the other person, that they felt was obvious, causing disappointment. Our experiences often lead to different emotions, both positive and negative and these sometimes lead to a reactive behaviour which we might regret at some point later. Without a degree of tolerance, patience and understanding, relations can sometimes get out of control leading to conflict whether outward or inward. Inward conflict - when we suppress our feelings trying to fool ourselves that the relationship is unimportant or that the other person might be overreacting, therefore taking a flight reaction. Just like the ostrich, burying our head in the sand in the hope that the hurt cannot be seen and that you cannot see or feel the hurt.
Tackling conflict by approaching the other person and giving as good as we got will seldom resolve the main issue. In the short term it will make you feel satisfied because you equalised through confrontation.
Approaching the other person in a constructive assertive manner to create a win-win outcome in most cases is of benefit to all parties. It raises an issue that perhaps the other person was not aware of, it provides the opportunity for you to share how you feel as well as giving the other person the chance to put things right before moving on.
What do you do in situations that you cannot raise the issue with the other person?
Try reframing the situation. Take some time to think about the other person at that time. Was it possible that they were going through a difficult period? Could they have misheard? Perhaps they were not feeling well or had received some bad news a few minutes earlier. If you had known this at that time, how would you think about the situation now? Would you act or react differently?
When considering how you feel recognise that you choose your behaviour and that no one can make you feel in a particular way. That is your choice. Therefore, if unable to reframe the situation tune into your feelings, acknowledge them, thank them and let them go. Holding on to grudges, hurt and anger does not serve in anyway, in fact ultimately these emotions when allowed to build up will either end in you “cashing in your stamps” during an inappropriate download of emotion which is likely to be anger, or by harbouring emotions in the body that sooner or later lead to physical ill health.
Remembering the small things that make you smile, that you are grateful for, that caused you to laugh, react in pleasant surprise or simply immerse yourself in, are all techniques that help us to remember and focus on the positive, therefore minimising the negative and holding on to those feelings of anger, hurt, bitterness and envy.
Giving kindness to others in the form of acknowledgement, through the exchange of a few polite words as you pass through the supermarket checkout, whilst you wait at the bus stop, go up or down in the lift not only makes their day brighter, but also your own day.
I run a Fresh Air Fridays session every month, each with a different theme. Unfortunately, these sessions are temporarily suspended during the COVID19 outbreak. You can still get informed on what these sessions are, and the upcoming themes so you are ready for when we are safe to return! Get more information on the next session, here.
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
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